Flight Centre plans "cyber twin" for agents

Flight Centre plans "cyber twin" for agents
By admin

Flight Centre is working on plans to create a “cyber twin” for its consultants as it downplayed fears that online sales could cannibalise its shop network and erode agents earning potential.

The retailer is developing what it described as a “blended travel” project to combine online shopping with its bricks and mortar network. It will be rolled out in the next six to 12 months.

Chief operating officer Melanie Waters-Ryan said far from agents losing sales to the web, it will create a greater ability to earn.

“This will be of benefit to them and will in fact give them a cyber twin,” she explained. “They will have an online consultant who will be selling for them and putting commission in their figures at the end the month.

“We have yet to work out the technicalities of how we do that financially but our consultants are excited.”

Waters-Ryan said agents were taken through the project at a recent Flight Centre event in Singapore. They “embraced” it , she said.

“I don’t think there’s a view that we will cannibalise sales and the facts support that everywhere you look.”

Under the concept, more product will be added online with customers able to switch between channels. “They can start online and finish the transaction in a store or vice versa,” Water said. “We are essentially improving the capability of our website brands. Research has shown that customers who transact online and offline spend about 3.5 times more on average than those who transact in one channel only.”

Consumers who book online will also be able to select a consultant as a “back-up” to obtain more information and advice, she said.

“We have been researching this heavily and believe it is quite unique in the travel industry,” Waters-Ryan continued. “Other retailers, overseas department stores in particular, do this well where they blend the convenience of instant gratification, which is what the customers expects, with the service, guidance and advise of a knowledgeable human being.”

Waters-Ryan added that moves were underway to improve productivity and efficiency among its consultants. Among the aims is to minimise onerous admin duties.

Flight Centre also flagged the launch of a low cost carrier booking platform for consultants while a Flight Centre “hyperstore” is soon to open in Hay Street, Perth.

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